Here’s a treat for fans of movies and the brain: an article called Strange Continuity. Throughout evolutionary history, we never saw anything like a montage. So why do we hardly notice the cuts in movies? Sure, it’s not technically physics but it’s a topic I love and have written about for Pacific Standard and on this blog. The new article is by cognitive neurologist Jeffrey Zacks, who chatted with me back in December on Virtually Speaking Science about his fantastic new book, Flicker: Your Brain on Movies.
Another topic dear to my heart: The Physics of Wine-Swirling, Refractometry, and “Wine Tears.” As Richard Feynman once observed, “if you look at a glass of wine closely enough, you will see the entire universe.”
Here’s Why Fish Scales Get Put In Lipstick. tl;dr: because PHYSICS, that’s why!
How Fast Is Rey’s Speeder in the Star Wars Teaser?
The Mysteries of the World’s Tiniest Bits of Matter. Physicists have known for decades that particles called gluons keep protons and neutrons intact–and thereby hold the universe together. Yet the details of how gluons function remain surprisingly mysterious.
Point: Clockmaker John Harrison vindicated 250 years after ‘absurd’ claims. The pendulum clock of Longitude hero John Harrison is tested and declared a masterpiece. Counterpoint: In 1714, Britain offered a vast reward for an accurate method of mapping longitude at sea. But, asks Rebekah Higgitt, was the right man given the credit for finding a solution? (PDF)
The “Nano Bible” Fits On a Chip The Size of a Grain of Sugar. “You can’t really read it, but that’s not the point.”
Temporal Acoustics: How Do We Hear Time Within Sound? A new study investigates how temporal acoustic patterns can be represented by neural activity within auditory cortex, a major hub within the brain for the perception of sound.
Concerns of an Artificial Intelligence Pioneer: The computer scientist Stuart Russell wants to ensure that our increasingly intelligent machines remain aligned with human values.
Symmetric Bat Flight: An award-winning image models the flow of air around a bat’s wings. “The image, which took first place in informational graphics in the 2007 National Science Foundation-Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, is in fact rich with aerodynamic detail derived from observations of bats in wind tunnels and simulations of the airflow around their wings when flying. It was created by David J. Willis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University, Mykhaylo Kostandov, Daniel K. Riskin, David H. Laidlaw, Sharon M. Swartz and Kenneth S. Breuer of Brown, and Jaime Peraire of MIT.”
She wrote one of the greatest physics theorems of all time. So why have so few people heard of Emmy Noether? (Sub req’d)
Space geckos show their playful side on zero-gravity mission. Reptiles were previously considered unable to play, but a Russian space experiment has overturned that view thanks to a loosely fastened collar.
A cold cosmic mystery solved? Astronomers discover what might be the largest known structure in the universe that leaves its imprint on cosmic microwave background radiation. Related: That Enormous Hole In The Universe Might Not Be Alone.
Why can tiny bubbles in a liquid supersaturated with gas remain stable for weeks, while according to theoretical expectation they should disappear in a fraction of a second? Nanobubbles dilemma solved after more than twenty years.
How quantum field theory allows us to distinguish between the known knowns and the known unknowns.
The Quest for Electromagnetic ‘Full Absorption’ and the End of Power Lines. “Harvesting these waves is the subject of a paper out this week in the Applied Physics Letters boasting the possibility of “full absorption.” This means the conversion of electromagnetic waves within a given range of frequencies with almost 100 percent efficiency. Fully absorbent materials reflect nothing and waste nothing.”
Dark Matter’s Deep Reach: Theorists suggest surprising connections between earthly hazards and the hypothetical particles that hold together the galaxies. Related: Long-awaited antiproton results from AMS give new dark matter constraints.
New Material Could Help Clean Up Oil Spills. On the fifth anniversary of giant Gulf oil spill, a look at new remediation technology.
Richard Easther comments thoughtfully on Big Astro and the Thirty Meter Telescope Controversy. “As an astrophysicist, I hope that the TMT will be built – it is an astonishing instrument, big enough to catch the the light from the first generation of stars to be born after the Big Bang, and sharp enough to make images of planets around other suns. However, I also hope that my community can do this without riding roughshod over a people who claim Mauna Kea as their own. Whether or not this this is possible with Mauna Kea I cannot say, but simply denying the validity of these concerns is not a promising start.”
Astronaut Michael L?pez-Alegr?a Explains the Intricacies of a Spacewalk in the New NASA Series ‘Suiting Up’.
The “dead water” phenomenon can bring ships to a near-standstill. The underlying cause is a stratification of fluids of different densities.
As Moore’s law turns 50, what does the future hold for the transistor?
Physicists detect radio waves from a single electron.
The Hubble Space Telescope turned 25 this week. Those Hubble photos you love? They lie. But those lies tell the true story of what exists in the cosmos. Related: Hubble at 25: Space Telescope’s Top Science Discoveries. Also: Hubble’s Repairman, former NASA astronaut Mike Massimo, Reflects on the Telescope’s Legacy. Bonus: An interactive history of the Hubble telescope.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s theory: ‘StarTalk’ can make science hip. Guest George Takei points out that Cardassians preceded the Kardashians.
Pew! Pew! Pew! Astronomers Want to Blast Space Junk by Strapping a Laser to a Telescope.
The most popular modern physics exhibit at the Smithsonian turns out to be Einstein’s pipe: Einstein reportedly believed that pipe smoking contributed to a calm and objective judgment, but his doctor said give it up.
Sonification of the Week: The Symphony of a ‘Leech-Nado‘: “The only other animals that swim in a vertical undulating pattern are whales and seals.”
We Still Don’t Know Where to Bury Our Nuclear Waste, although 40 Percent of Hanford Nuclear Waste would fit in one 5-kilometer deep borehole. Related: 7 Places That Could Give You Superpowers, but Will Probably Kill You. Don’t be a Daredevil. Stay away from radioactive waste.
Nikola Tesla May Be Dead, But He’s Still Providing Free Wi-Fi to Silicon Valley via a statue in his likeness.
“Developed at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, researchers use a new technique that is 10 times faster than standard MRI scanners to illustrate how the hundreds of muscles in our neck, jaw, tongue, and lips work together to produce sound.”
Researchers have established a theoretical framework to understand the elastic and electronic properties of graphene.
The Travelling Politician Problem: what’s the shortest route between the 50 top marginals? Mathematician solves complicated puzzle of how best to get round the UK’s political hotspots.
A Series of Fun Surface Tension Experiments Using Water and Household Items.
Italian neutrino experiment to move to the US. ICARUS, the world’s largest liquid-argon neutrino detector, will help with the search for sterile neutrinos at Fermilab.
Shape vs vibration: Continuous rather than discrete? The vibrational theory of smell. “one side declares that smell is because of shape while the other declares that vibration also plays a role.”
X-Ray Artist Reveals The Inner Beauty Of Classic Motorcycles. “Nick Veasey’s most recent project in his large gallery of x-rayed objects, peels back the hidden layers some valuable and irreplaceable two-wheeled machines.”
A Handsomely Designed Erlenmeyer Vacuum Flask Cocktail Shaker Set Made From Scientifically Tempered Glass.
Scientifically Accurate Version of the Magical Ponies From the My Little Pony Animated Television Series.
Everybody Wants to Rule the Quantum World: Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal wrote songs about quantum physics. As Bill and Ted would say, “Rock on, quantum physics dudes!”
How Benford’s Law Reveals Suspicious Activity on Twitter. The counterintuitive distribution of digits in certain data sets turns out to be a powerful tool for detecting strange behavior on social networks.
Which winner of a Nobel Prize in physics appeared as a character in a 60s western show?
Low-reflection, nanostructured wings make butterflies nearly invisible.
Hubble Space Telescope’s chief scientist on what it took to get the project off the ground.
How Does Captain America’s Super-Soldier Serum Work? “Using modern genetics and chemistry, a gene-editing formula that was light-activated could in fact boost muscle growth and the amount of oxygen your blood can ferry around your body, for example.”
Five Times Doctor Who Actually Got Their Science Right.
Ants Swarm Like Brains Think: A neuroscientist studies ant colonies to understand feedback in the brain.
Virtual Telescope Readies to Image Black Hole’s ‘Ring of Fire.’
New Technology Could Better Detect Dangerous Materials At US Ports.
Examining Einstein – precise experiments using lasers in space.
Stellar Caves: Immersive Tunnels of UV-Illuminated Thread Drawings by Julien Salaud. ” French artist Julien Salaud has installed several new works as part of his “Stellar Cave” series involving elaborate thread drawings illuminated by ultraviolet light. The polygonal depictions of people, animals, and zoomorphic figures are meant to evoke the idea of star constellations with allusions to mythology and mysticism.”
Why Physics Needs Philosophy. “The reigning attitude in physics has been ‘shut up and calculate’: solve the equations, and do not ask questions about what they mean.”
Mechanical cloaks of invisibility - without complicated mathematics.
Mu2e breaks ground on experiment. Scientists seek rare muon conversion that could signal new physics.
How To Turn Conductive Paint Into A Liquid Lightbulb Switch.
People don’t know what real scientists look like. Neither do scientists.
The Secret to Detecting Venusian Earthquakes: Hot-Air Balloons.
The Ladies Need Their Space. Space Happens: Sci-Fi Comedy From a Smart, Female, Millennial Point of View.
Fantastic interview with Naziyah Mahmood, Muslim martial artist and space scientist.
Mathematics, Live: A Conversation with Katie Steckles and Laura Taalman.
The golden ratio is design’s biggest myth. Here’s why.
Mating Market Theory: The Math Of One-Night Stands And Long-Term Relationships.
Extreme cold and shipwreck lead. Scientists have proven the concept of the CUORE experiment, which will study neutrinos with the world’s coldest detector and ancient lead.
Chemical analysis of 170 year old champagne provides clues to past winemaking.
In Praise of Fractals and Poetry: Proportions of the Heart: Poems that Play with Mathematics, a collection of poems by Emily Grosholz.
Weekend Diversion: Zooming Into A Fractal: “the Mandelbrot set consists of every possible complex number, n, where the sequence n, n^2 + n, (n^2 + n)^2 + n, etc. — where each new term is the prior term, squared, plus n — does not go to either positive or negative infinity.” Just open your eyes, full-screen it, and watch.